This is a mid-term election like few others, but in battles over the direction of Congress and state politics, there are a lot of close races to track.
It's a serious sign of shifting political climate when Kansas has two competitive congressional districts that could flip from Republican to Democratic, as well as tight governor's race. In Iowa, much the same is true with at least two congressional districts potentially flipping from red to blue, as well as another toss-up race for governor as well.
The current House breakdown is 235 (R) - 193 (D) with seven vacancies (five Republican and two Democratic). The forecast going into Tuesday is a flip to 235 Democrats and 201 Republicans once the counting is done.
Some members of the House Agriculture Committee have tight races.
Illinois Rep. Mike Bost, R-12th, has an edge in his race to hold his seat against Democrat Brendan Kelly.
New York Rep. John Faso R-19th, is trailing Democrat Antonio Delgado, though the margins are tight in that race.
In California, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-10th, has pushed water issues in the California 10th Congressional District in his race against Democrat Josh Harder, but Harder is given a slight advantage in the race.
In Iowa, Rep. Steve King, despite all of the attention over white nationalism, was polled over the weekend by the New York Times and still showed a 5-point lead over Democrat J.D. Sholten. Nine percent of voters were undecided and the margin of error was wide. Absentee voting in the Iowa Fourth Congressional District also shows an 11,000-vote spread for Republicans, the only congressional district in Iowa in which the GOP has an absentee voter lead.
Back to Kansas, Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd, a four-term incumbent, is trailing Sharice Davids, a Native American lawyer, former Obama White House fellow, soldier and mixed-martial arts fighter and lesbian who has held steady in recent polling. Yoder is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, including the subcommittee on agriculture. Yoder has attacked her position on government health-care, while Davids has countered she will protect health care for people with pre-existing conditions.
In Iowa, Reps. David Young, R-3rd and Rod Blum, R-1st, are both trailing Democratic women candidates as well. Young, like Yoder, is a House appropriator and a member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture. Young and his opponent, Cindy Axne, have filled the airwaves fighting over health care and tax cuts. Young, and surrogates, have run several ads tying Axne's stances to Nancy Pelosi and warning Axne would raise taxes on farmers. Still, Axne maintains a slight lead, though within the margin of error.Senate Slugfest
Democrats have a lot more problems in the Senate simply because they had more territory to defend with 24 seats and the two independents (who caucus with Democrats) versus nine Republican-held states.
Larry Sabato's Crystal ball shows five races in the U.S. Senate that could give Democrats at least a 50-50 balance in the Senate. Those include Indiana, Missouri and Florida, held by Democratic incumbents, and Arizona and Nevada, now held by the GOP. Sabato gives Democrats "leaning" status in Montana and West Virginia Senate races, but on Monday Sabato moved Indiana and Missouri from "toss-up" to leans Republican.
Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com puts Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in a toss-up against Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. An NBC News/Marist poll released Monday showed McCaskill with a three-point lead, which is within the margin of error. Silver also pegs Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller against Rep. Jacky Rosen. Polling in Nevada has gone back and forth and within any margin of error.
Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat and member of the Senate Ag Committee, is in a dead heat with businessman Mike Braun. Polls going back just to early last week are all within the margin of error.
Polls continue to show Democratic North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a member Senate Ag Committee, is behind GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer. Heitkamp has gotten as much as $13.2 million for her race since voting against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, according to the Grand Forks Herald and has outraised Cramer roughly 5 to 1. Still, Heitkamp's campaign and North Dakota Democrats have made a couple of serious unforced errors that haven't helped. Every credible poll conducted since September shows Cramer with at least a 9-point lead, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. Expert ratings continue to lean the race for Cramer as well.
Another race to watch is the Mississippi special election. Appointed incumbent Sen Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican and member of the Senate Ag Committee, has a narrow lead over former USDA Secretary Mike Espy, a Democrat, only because another Republican, Chris McDaniel, remains in the race and is culling off 15%-18% of the vote. This campaign is projected to go to a runoff on Nov. 27 between the top two vote-getters if nobody breaks out and gets a majority vote on Tuesday.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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